I had two conversations this morning with women in completely different roles: one a founder exploring a first capital raise; the other, a digital marketing consult. Completely different profiles, but they were experiencing symptoms of the same problem. The money isn’t flowing.
As members of nondominant socio-economic groups, we (women) have not received our fair share of the economic pie. Ever. We have not been empowered by the sentiment that our earning power is aligned with our capability. So even when, against all odds, we believe in ourselves enough to run with an idea and start a business, we do not value ourselves highly enough to ask for the amount of money we rightly deserve. And furthermore, we often operate from a place of scarcity, not wanting to spend our resources or invest in ourselves. This is a vicious cycle that I see first hand everyday affecting female entrepreneurs who are metaphorically giving their kidneys to clients in a barter trade.
The messages we receive regarding our value as women are many fold. To start with, our worth is determined by some subjective scale outside of our control which is clearly skewed against us and which we are told we have no business understanding. This makes investing in ourselves enormously unnerving. Of the two women I spoke with this morning, one was a founder who didn’t want to raise “too much” money because she believed she could “get by” without it.
I asked her, “but if you did raise more money, could you have a more
“Yes,” she stated, without hesitation.
“Well, that’s good for your investor too,” I pointed out.
The second conversation was with the digital marketing specialist who is really good at what she does. She came to me to talk about how female founders do not want to spend any money. There is almost this fear of losing control if we take a leap of faith and bet on OURSELVES.
Well, this has got to stop. This is a vicious cycle. . If we do not value our businesses, investors will not either. If we do not invest in ourselves, we cannot grow our businesses. And if we don’t build and run our own businesses, we may very well not have wage parity for another 208 years.
I understand the scarcity mindset. It’s too real. But we have to break this cycle. It’s uncomfortable and unnerving to take that leap of faith and to fail. To spend a little, fail, learn, and pivot. But we have to. We have to believe in ourselves and our ideas and in each other. White cisgendered men do this all the time with super high startup valuations and visions. It’s true, they are held to a different standard and allowed much more leeway in taking these leaps of faith and making mistakes. But I know we can do this. And I know there are enough women out there to support each other along the way. And I also strongly believe, as an investor, our businesses do and will vastly outperform.
So that’s the bet I’m making. I think it’s a bit of a no brainer bet. But we all need to believe in ourselves a little bit more. Let’s take back control of our valuations.